Morris continues Tigers' parade of '84 champs
Former Detroit ace takes Comerica Park mound before Game 5 of ALCS
DETROIT -- The venue has changed, but the presence remains.
Even though Tiger Stadium regular Jack Morris never logged a single inning at Comerica Park, No. 47 still commanded attention on the mound Thursday night as he threw the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
Morris followed Game 3's Lance Parrish and Game 4's Lou Whitaker as honored members of the Tigers' last World Series championship team in 1984.
He had 175 career complete games, including 20 in 1983, was a four-time All-Star as a Tiger and enjoyed seasons in Detroit with 20-plus wins in '83 and '86 while winning 19 games in '84, 18 in '87 and 17 in '79 and 1982. Morris threw the fifth no-hitter in Tigers history on April, 7, 1984, and finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting in '81 and '83.
He was known as one of the premier big-game pitchers of his era, a quality that members of the current Tigers and Red Sox will have to tap into if they're to make a difference in the final three games of this tight series.
"The good players, both offensively and defensively, have the ability to block out all the distractions," Morris said. "And their focus becomes sharper in those big moments when the rest of the world is watching.
"Let's face it, baseball has friends everywhere. There's nothing better than to shine and call your buddy on the team that's sitting at home right now, and tell him, 'How did I do?' They love that."
The rest of Thursday's pregame fanfare included a national anthem performed by the Detroit School of Arts Male Ensemble Vision Choir.
The Detroit School of Arts, whose notable graduates include the late R&B singer Aaliyah, is a nationally renowned college preparatory academy.
Also, the game ball was delivered by Staff Sgt. Christopher Nowicki of Saginaw, Mich., who has served two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
He currently serves as the assistant operations and training NCO at headquarters in Lansing and is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist.
He has been awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Michigan National Guard's Lifesaving Medal. Nowicki has served the military for 17 years.